When I was 18 years old and lived in New York, I became addicted to a certain white powder. I lied, sneaked out and spent large sums of money on my addiction.
This was, of course, the year I became a downhill skiing enthusiast.
As winter approaches, I’ve come to the painful realization that here, in Tampa, I cannot drive five minutes to the slopes every afternoon. I know other Floridians may feel my pain and withdrawal from snow, too.
There are, however, a few anti-snow sport students at USF who, I think, must absolutely be brought out of the dark side. Freshman Brandon W. says, “I live at the beach, which makes snow skiing kind of hard. And I don’t have the money to go out of state just to slide down a mountain.”
As he mentioned, neither the sweltering January heat nor the conspicuous lack of elevation in Florida is conducive to skiing — a little travel is required. But never fear — students can make a ski-pilgrimage for under $500 that is well worth the money. And you have just enough time to make reservations for a New Year’s ski trip.
USF Oracle 2004-2004 Winter Sports Preview
The definition of a winter sport is, naturally, a sport that is performed in winter conditions. There are several sporty methods of propelling oneself down steep slopes:
Downhill skiing, in which skis are strapped to each foot and one goes down a slope at dizzying speeds.
Snowboarding, which involves strapping both feet to one snowboard in order to slide down a slope in loose-fitting clothing while attempting to look cool.
If students have a case of vertigo or if they’d like to get a great cardiovascular workout, they can select one of the following methods of traversing the winter countryside:
Cross country skiing, in which they strap special thinner skis to their feet and “slide” or “skate” across the snow with the help of ski poles.
Snowshoeing, which pretty much amounts to walking or jogging over deep snow with tennis rackets attached to both feet.
Skiing and snowboarding have many variations, such as extreme snowboarding (think X-Games) and heliskiing, which involves participants being deposited on a high mountain slope by helicopter rather than by ski lift.
Of course, there are other winter sports besides skiing and snowboarding, such as curling — ask a Canadian classmate for details. Each one of these sports has advantages and disadvantages to it. The expense is similar, so it’s simply a matter of preference.
Where to ski
The best resorts for skiing are undoubtedly the famous ones out West. Jackson Hole, Vail, Breckenridge and Mammoth may come to mind.
Even better is heliskiing in Alaska. But, if one has the price range of most students, he or she might prefer a slightly more economical option.
How to get on the slopes
Go with a group.
USF outdoor recreation, for instance, holds a spring break ski trip. This year the trip goes to the Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia, one of the most challenging ski resorts in the east. The cost is $430 plus $106 for ski rental. This costs a lot less than a ski vacation normally would, plus there are cool new people to meet. Those students wanting to go should drop off their deposits as soon as possible to Recreation Center Room 006.
Find a mountain.
Those visiting family in the West or Northeast should scout out a mountain without a lift. Many times it’s free and a great workout hiking up the mountain.
Psychology major Nick Ohley found such a mountain while visiting family in Maine.
“We parked at the bottom of the mountain and hiked to the top then skied down the other side. It wasn’t difficult — just straight down — but it was very pretty. Lots of scenery all around and a lot of mountains in the distance.”
Beginning skiers should learn skiing from an instructor before attempting to ski down a mountain or injury or death may occur.
Find a cheap rate at a resort.
As with any form of travel, with a little research students can get fabulous discounts on ski resort packages. Check to see whether there are special prices for students because they don’t have to be Donald Trump to enjoy a stellar ski vacation. Deals may include air travel, lodging, equipment rental, meals and/or lift tickets. Web sites such as ww.orbitz.com offer great last-minute deals on some of the more well-known resorts on the East Coast.
However, students should call the resort ahead of time to figure out what slopes (if any) are open this time of year. Some ski resorts on the East Coast, for example, only open around Christmas.
Work at a resort.
Looking to fill in a gap between college and grad school or a “real” job? Love to ski? Then this is the best bet. Skiers don’t have to be ski instructors or a ski patrol members to get great pay, free lift tickets and other perks. Any job from waiting tables to photography to lift maintenance should provide great benefits.
And if someone gets a job organizing events or doing sales and promotions, that student may be able to turn it into a career. Check out www.monster.com or go to www.resortjobs.com to post a resume.
Tereza Zambrano is a senior majoring in international studies and is a triathlete. She can be reached at TMZambrano@triathlete.com .